6 Strategies for Active Social Listening

In this guest post Julie Delaforce reveals ways we can use even the simplest, free, social media data to improve our brand communication and bottom line.


There’s been a lot of media talk around the health dangers of too much sitting. When it comes to social listening, plenty of organisations are making the same mistake – by sitting on their data.

The solution is the same in both cases: Get active. Do something.

Too many organisations are passive listeners. They monitor. They sign up for a listening tool that picks up brand and keyword mentions and conversations. They get a report and… do nothing with it. That’s the end of it. It should be the start.

You don’t unlock the power of your data by sitting on it – you unlock it by sharing insights and taking action.

Here are six ways to use active and strategic social listening.

Customer Service – respond beyond

Don’t just respond to everyday questions and complaints. Use the data you’re collecting to go beyond the expected and ordinary. Cast the net wider. Capture broader queries, and respond to them. Seek opportunities to surprise and delight customers and prospects.

When you do that, you engage your audience, build loyalty and create relationships that can turn customers into advocates. And who doesn’t want that!

Track Awareness – yes, you can measure it, too

What marketer doesn’t rate ‘awareness’ as a key social media goal? But how many can actually measure it?  You can report on awareness and get a handle on ROI by being an active social listener.

Try monitoring mentions of your brand over time and look for trends. Have they increased? Track your influencers. Who is mentioning your brand? Are they advocating more often? Or less? What’s your share of voice or social engagement versus competitors? Did activity and mentions increase during a campaign?

Try a social-only campaign to measure impact in isolation.

Use social listening to complement other marketing measurements like surveying to get the big picture.

Risk Management – measure more than sentiment

To identify and manage risk – whether it’s brand and reputation, legal and regulatory, or user and audience – you need to track more than sentiment. Sentiment is unreliable; it’s indicative, a gut feel.

Better, auto-tag mentions for a more complete picture of emotions – happy, sad, angry, frustrated, ecstatic, nonplussed. Then, if there’s a peak in angry activity you can jump on it as a potential risk.

You need to be across emerging trends and themes both for your brand and industry. Monitor and embrace influencers who are talking about your brand.

Research – get real

Market research is a valuable tool. But imagine if you could tap into real conversations in real time, not just focus on group responses to pre-set questions and typed answers to online surveys? Oh wait – you can!

Listening to real conversations in real time online gives you valuable information. You learn not only what people are saying, but who’s saying it, how they’re saying it, where and what that means to your brand.

Those insights can be used to inform all marketing activity – not just social.

Lead Generation – think differently

Follow the recruiters’ example. They’re online, listening for mentions of people looking for work or organisations looking to fill roles – because it works.

You can make it work for you, too. Tap into conversations to help keep the customers you have, and find new ones.

Think outside the box, listen to find complaints, misspellings of your brand, general rants that make veiled mentions of your brand, images with industry-related tags. Who’s looking to buy? Jump in and talk to them.

Community Management

All of the above approaches to strategic listening deliver a treasure-trove of information for your community management, from pin-pointing your most important influencers and helping to grow your community to identifying your most valuable pieces of content and themes for new content.

Do something with your data – and your people

Listening or monitoring tools deliver masses of information, but you have to do something with it. And that requires people, too. No tool can replace the value of a skilled community manager.

Tools don’t do nuance or empathy. They don’t get sentiment or insight. They can’t make strategic recommendations – or act on them. And acting on something is the difference between sitting on it – and sitting on a goldmine.

Julie Delaforce is the general manager at Quiip


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